The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has moved in to protect provincial magistrate Bianca Makwande from being sued in her personal capacity, in a matter where she committed Harare West MP Joanah Mamombe to remand prison for mental examination by two government medical doctors.
Mamombe, who is out of custody on charges of publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State or alternatively defeating or obstructing the course of justice, was last month sent to remand prison after being forcibly removed from a private hospital where she was being treated for mental disorder.
According to court papers, Mamombe was supposed to stand trial on September 15, 2020 but failed to attend court as she was being treated at a local hospital.
The State then went on to invoke the provisions of section 26 of the Mental Health Act to force Mamombe to be examined by two medical practitioners while in prison, a decision that has since been overturned by the High Court.
Following her incarceration, Mamombe filed for review at the High Court and in her draft order sought to sue Makwande for the costs of suit, prompting JSC secretary Walter Chikwanha to intervene.
High Court judge Justice Esther Muremba condemned Mamombe’s incarceration saying the magistrate’s decision was not warranted.
“…In the circumstances of this case, the applicant (Joanah Mamombe) was already out of custody on bail which she had been granted by this court. Nothing shows that she had breached her bail conditions. It is not disputed that when a warrant of arrest was issued against her for failing to appear in court on September 15, 2020, she was in hospital.
“The police arrested her from there and took her to court. In the circumstances it cannot be said that she was in a wilful default when she did not attend court. Nothing, therefore, warranted her placement in custody for the purposes of her mental examination,” Justice Muremba ruled.
The application by JSC is yet to be set down for hearing.